A lot of people are of the mindset that emotions just sorta hang out in your brain without having much of an impact anywhere else.
But while this may have been considered fact decades ago, today we know it’s simply not true. Through extensive research, we’ve discovered that poor emotional health can cause the following physical, tangible things:
- Back pain
- Appetite changes
- Chest pain
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Dry mouth
- High blood pressure
- Stiff neck
- Upset stomach
- Sharp weight changes
- Immune system deficiency
- Cardiovascular disease
How exactly does poor emotional health cause those things? A few ways.
The first is your hormones. A negative emotional state leads to various hormonal imbalances that damage your immune system and make it harder for your body to take care of itself.
We also know that unhealthy emotions shorten your telomeres – which live at the end of your DNA strands and play a major role in aging. As your telomeres shorten, your cells sustain more and more damage.
The Good News
While negative emotions have a definite negative impact on your health, we do know that the inverse is also true.
Research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that with a positive attitude, even those with serious heart disease live longer, healthier lives.
The study also found that humor improves immune cell function, reducing the likelihood of illness or cancer.
And, of course, there’s also the fact that in the absence of negativity, you’re less likely to be weighed down by the whole laundry list of negative health effects outlined above, like neck pain.
Good times all around, with a positive mind!
How To Increase Your Positivity
It’s a lot easier said than done, isn’t it? No doubt, we’ve all tried – and often failed – to lift our spirits and adopt a healthier frame of mind.
Here are a few psychology-backed pointers that should help in that regard.
#1 – Identify How You Feel
Yeah, you feel ‘bad.’ But that can mean many things.
If you want to change your emotions, fully understanding them is crucial.
Emotion logs are used quite heavily in cognitive therapy to help people identify exactly what they’re feeling and why.
This removes the mystique – the detachment – from emotions. It helps you realize that your emotions are not some thing chosen at random that you’re helplessly at the whim of.
And when you accept the responsibility that comes with that realization, you can…
#2 – Escape The Victim Mentality
Psychologists refer to the ‘victim mentality’ as an aversion to responsibility that extends far beyond practicality. Those with a victim mentality turn friends into therapists but never follow any good advice.
They don’t truly desire to reach a better place; they simply want someone to sulk with them and feed into their ‘poor me’ attitude.
Sound familiar? Don’t beat yourself up too much. We all fall into the victim mentality at some point in our lives.
A couple great ways to get out of it are expressing gratitude and engaging in acts of kindness. This will help you see the world for what it really is – a place that, despite its many sharp edges, contains a lot of goodness and kindness.
Check out this post to learn more about the benefits of gratitude.
#3 – Deal With Negative Emotions
Of course, not every negative emotion will go away when you express gratitude or help a stranger. Some emotions will involve more of a self-centered approach – and hey, that’s totally alright!
Here are a few outlet ideas:
Of course, there’s no one outlet that works for everyone but your goal should be to find an activity that, unlike drinking or smoking, relieves stress in a healthy manner.